‘Dillinger,’ a 1941 Buick Sedanette, takes Custom d’Elegance honors at Sacramento Autorama

‘Dillinger,’ a 1941 Buick Sedanette, takes Custom d’Elegance honors at Sacramento Autorama

1941 Buick sedanette

Dillinger, the ’41 Buick sedanette owned by Clifford Mattis. Photos courtesy Kahn Media and the Sacramento Autorama.

John Dillinger, gunned down in July 1934 by Melvin Purvis and his FBI colleagues, probably wouldn’t have won any beauty contests. A custom 1941 Buick sedanette named for the notorious gangster, on the other hand, just scored a pair of automotive equivalents, taking home both the Custom d’Elegance Award and the World’s Most Beautiful Custom Award, presented last Sunday at the 68th-annual Sacramento Autorama in Sacramento, California.

1941 Buick sedanette

Built by Lucky 7 Customs in Antioch, California, and owned by Clifford Mattis, Dillinger wears a chopped and channeled prewar Buick body, though power comes from a small block Chevy V-8 (wearing, oddly enough, vintage Oldsmobile valve covers) instead of the original Buick Fireball 8 straight-eight. Sunday wasn’t Dillinger’s first time in the spotlight, either; at last month’s Grand National Roadster Show, Mattis’ Buick took home the 2018 Steve’s Auto Restorations Award.

1941 Buick sedanette

In a show that featured more than 900 vehicles on display — including bikes, boats, muscle cars, hot rods, customs, and trucks — Dillinger beat out five other finalists to earn the Custom d’Elegance Award, presented to the best hand-built custom from 1935-’48 that “embodies the spirit of a true classic custom.” Previous notable builders who’ve taken top honors include Gene Winfield, George Barris, Joe “Candy Apple Red” Bailon, and John D’Agostino.

1941 Buick sedanette

Marcos Garcia (L) of Lucky 7 Customs with Clifford Mattis.

1941 Buick sedanette 1941 Buick sedanette 1941 Buick sedanette

The World’s Most Beautiful Custom Award, also presented to Dillinger, is given annually to the judges’ favorite custom — from 1936 to present day — that “incorporates a silhouette change including chop, channel, or section.” Created to honor the founder of Autorama, H.A. Bagdasarian, the 8-foot-tall trophy is a “perpetual award,” meaning that winner Mattis will have his name enshrined alongside past recipients.

Other awards of note included:

1958 Continental Mk III

King of the Kustoms, presented to Maybellene, a 1958 Continental Mk III owned by Sue and Tad Leach and built by Dave Kindig and Kindig-It Design. For this annual award, presented to the best 1935-’64 custom, judges focus on design and flow of the finished build, also taking into consideration the car’s interior, color, and paint design.

1965 VW Bus

The Sam Barris Memorial Award, chosen by the Barris family, went to Surf Seeker, a 1965 Volkswagen Bus built and owned by Ron Berry. This annual award honors the best metal work, panel fit, and paint work seen on the show floor.

1950 Mercury

The Joe “Candy Apple Red” Bailon Award was presented to American Dream, a 1950 Mercury owned by Mike and Rita Garner and built by Richie Valles of Unique Twist. The award was designed by the inventor of candy paint, and until his death in September 2017, winners were selected by Bailon as well.

1957 Chevrolet Corvette

The Dick Bertolucci Automotive Excellence Award, presented to Family Affair, a 1957 Chevrolet Corvette owned by Richard and Bonnie Cox and built by Kindig-It Design. The award is given to a pre-1973 vehicle, chosen by Bertolucci, that demonstrates the best assembly, fit and finish, and attention to detail.

For more on the 2018 Sacramento Autorama, including a complete list of award-winners, visit RodShows.com.

Source: www.hemmings.com/blog

A few 1970 AMC memories

A few 1970 AMC memories

Vintage print art courtesy of oldcarbrochures.com

Back in high school in the mid-1980s, when I was driving my ’67 Chevelle SS 396, my good friend Joe, who was also a classmate, bought a Hialeah Yellow 1970 Javelin SST equipped with a black vinyl top, a 360 engine, and an automatic transmission. Its hood had been painted flat black by a previous owner, and, though it wasn’t done professionally, from a few feet away it still looked good to us at the time.

We cruised around in Joe’s Javelin regularly. And we worked on it. We even took it junkyard treasure hunting a couple of times in an effort to score cheap, used factory-AMC and -Chevy parts to upgrade both of our rides.

Despite growing up in a predominantly GM household and owning a Chevelle back then, the body and the interior designs of that Javelin still made an impression on me. The exterior lines were straightforward and the body was well proportioned, I thought. Its front end looked mean with its aggressive grille area and scooped hood. The attractive styling carried into the interior as well with a sporty dash layout featuring round instruments, and the bucket seats were comfortable.

I can’t recall now how long Joe kept his AMC, but I do remember that after I sold my Chevelle and was in the market for another muscle car, memories of his Javelin persuaded me to look at a few others and some AMXs. Why not a two-seat AMX? I was a teenager, and not married with children, so I didn’t need a backseat.

Though none of the Javelin prospects panned out, I did find a 1970 390 AMX that stopped me in my tracks. It was a four-speed Matador Red car that presented itself as a properly maintained driver. It looked great, and ran and rode well, but the price was $4,000 in mid-1980s money (about $8,870 today).

After much consideration, and with my low-paying part-time job weighing heavily in the decision-making process, I realized that the arrest-me-red two-seater was already out of my reach. And I had yet to investigate what the insurance tab would be for an 18-year-old to own a sporty two-seater. I may have been unpleasantly surprised. Consequently, I grudgingly passed on the AMX.

A couple of years later, while working at a body shop full time during the day (while going to college at night), I was stunned to see the AMX drive in. Even though it still looked nearly as clean as I had remembered it, its owner wanted to have it repainted, and we got the job. While it was in the shop, I actually got to do some minor work on that same AMX that I had previously pined over and lamented not buying. When it rolled out into to the sunlight with arrow-straight body panels and shiny new paint, courtesy of one of the seasoned auto-body technicians with whom I worked, it looked fantastic.

It still wasn’t mine, but I was happy to see that the person who bought it instead of me was enthusiastic about it, and had sufficient funds to improve it.

Though I still have yet to own a Javelin or AMX, I have held them in high regard ever since I had those positive experiences with them as a teenager. Click on the 1970 AMC full-line brochure images below to enlarge, so that you can see the Javelin and AMX and read all about what was available for them in that year.

Do you have any warm AMC memories to share? Here’s the place to do it.




Source: www.hemmings.com/blog

Hemmings Find of the Day – 1961 Ford Falcon station wagon

Hemmings Find of the Day – 1961 Ford Falcon station wagon

1961 Ford Falcon station wagon

Driver-quality, partially restored 1961 Ford Falcon station wagon for sale. From the seller’s description:

Starts easily, runs and drives well. Driver quality car. Classic Ford red and white two-tone.

144 cubic inch 6-cylinder engine with 3-speed on the tree column shifter.

Many parts replaced. New floor pan, clutch, front brakes, master cylinder and brake lines. New fuel lines and fuel pump. Pertronix electronic ignition, Smitty’s glasspack muffler. New Falcon Sprint type bucket seats and center console. New narrow whitewall tires. GPS speedometer.

Original windshield has deep scratches. All original are in place, but some gauges not operable. Heat/defrost ductwork needs replacement. Original bench seat included.

1961 Ford Falcon station wagon 1961 Ford Falcon station wagon 1961 Ford Falcon station wagon 1961 Ford Falcon station wagon



Location Marker

Forked River, New Jersey

Magnifying Glass


Find more Fords for sale on Hemmings.com.

Editor’s note: The purpose of the “Find of the Day” is to highlight interesting cars from our classifieds. These are not the actual ads, so to view more images or contact the seller with questions, click on the hyperlink (underlined green text), which will take you to the classified ad itself.

Source: www.hemmings.com/blog

“World’s most beautiful sports car” production resumes after 50 years with first new Byers body

“World’s most beautiful sports car” production resumes after 50 years with first new Byers body

Photos courtesy Geoff Hacker.

In the course of researching independent fiberglass body builders of the Fifties and early Sixties, Geoff Hacker has met several people who were directly involved with those original efforts, many of whom advised him to never sell repops of those bodies – not due to any rights issues but for fear of economic ruin. Yet Geoff believes he has good reason to do so, starting with the first new Byers SR-100 body built since the early 1960s.

“I’m doing this more for the purpose of history and to save the cars,” Geoff said. “A business will eventually evolve after that.”

Take as evidence the fact that the mold for the Byers is the fourth mold he’s so far taken off a vintage fiberglass body – the Bangert Manta Ray, the Sorrell, and the CRV Piranha all preceded it – but the Byers is the first he’s decided to offer for sale. Or the fact that, despite the time and cost that went into creating the mold and then into pulling a body from it, he’s still determining pricing for the bodies.

“These will definitely be for limited production – we would have to redesign the molds if we really wanted to go into full production,” he said. “Molds will never be a central part of what we do. If you add logic and strategy to everything we do, then we would have never made it as far as we have because everything is just too risky.”

Still, as Geoff argued, it’s worth reviving the SR-100 if not for whatever demand exists for it from modern-day builders than for the history behind the design.

As one of the builders of the first Victress in 1952 – and, later, Dick Jones’s partner in building the Meteor SR-1 – Jim Byers had built a good working knowledge of fiberglass body production by the middle part of the decade. In about 1955, he decided to take that knowledge and apply it to his vision of a lithe street-bound sportscar that drew from contemporary European sportscar design just as the Victress drew from Jaguar design but blended the source material in a fundamentally different and American style.

While Byers intended the SR-100 to take a first-generation Corvette windshield and sit on a wheelbase measuring roughly 100 inches, he left pretty much the rest of the build decisions – chassis, drivetrain, interior, trim, even where to cut for the doors, hood, and decklid – to the customer. He set up his company, Fiber-Craft, in El Segundo, and not long after came up with a second, smaller design – the CR-90 – intended for racing.

Byers’s big break came in 1957 when John Bond, the editor of Road & Track, put a completed SR-100 on the cover of the magazine and declared “we think it is second to none in sheer beauty.” Bond later went on to put his money where his mouth was when he built a Byers and showed how he did it in the magazine in 1959.

“This guy is my rock star,” Geoff said. “He was involved with all these companies that built fiberglass cars, and he crosses from the earliest of the fiberglass bodies up to the kits of the Seventies.”

Exactly how many SR-100s he sold isn’t known, but Geoff said somewhere between 25 and 35 total were built. Byers continued production through about 1961, then sold the molds for the SR-100 to Kellison, which cataloged it until the late Sixties and switched from hand-laid fiberglass body construction to chopper gun construction. Roughly 20 total SR-100 bodies are known to still exist.

Partnering with Dave Koorey in Port Richie, Florida, Geoff began the process of developing SR-100 molds last fall using a Kellison-built body that was the last remaining unbuilt and uncut example Geoff knew of. Along with the bodies, Geoff said he would like to offer a fiberglass Corvette windshield frame to avoid the cost of sourcing an original. Geoff said he only intends to sell bodies, but is in talks with a third party to offer rolling chassis and even completed cars.

For more information, visit ForgottenFiberglass.com.

Source: www.hemmings.com/blog

Freshly Factory-Restored: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Heritage department unveils “Reloaded by Creators”

Freshly Factory-Restored: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Heritage department unveils “Reloaded by Creators”

Images courtesy of FCA Heritage.

It was at Paris’ world-famous classic-car show, the 43rd edition of Rétromobile, that FCA Heritage announced its exciting new program to sell a select number of restored classic Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Lancia, and Abarth cars, under the guise “Reloaded by Creators.”

FCA Heritage brought five Italian sports and GT cars to the Porte de Versailles Exhibition Centre to kick off this new program, which was unveiled by Roberto Giolito, head of FCA Heritage. Giolito explained that this department of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will be selling a small number of cars that have been fully restored to original specifications, are warrantied, and come with a Certificate of Authenticity; the money raised in those sales will fund new additions to FCA’s historic car collection.

Fiat Chrysler is far from the first automaker to market restored versions of its heritage models: Nissan did this in the late 1990s with the 240Z, Mercedes-Benz has been selling old Benzes through its Classic Centers, Aston Martin Works offers a generous selection of 1960s-1990s models,  BMW’s Classic Center will sell you a vintage car or motorcycle, and Jaguar Classic will sell you a restored E-type or one of its “continuation” models, the most recent of which is the D-type, while sibling firm Land Rover Classic offers “reborn” Land Rovers and Range Rovers.

These initial “Reloaded by Creators” cars fall into two categories, according to FCA Heritage. The 1973 Lancia Fulvia Coupé Montecarlo, 1981 Pininfarina Spidereuropa  (aka Fiat 124 Spider), and 1991 Alfa Romeo Spider series IV are dubbed “ultimate classics” — “the last versions of their series to be built, the most ‘complete’ in terms of engineering and design.” The 1959 Lancia Appia and 1989 Alfa Romeo SZ are marketed as “unusual classics” — “custom cars not everyone will know about.”

Lancia Fulvia Coupe

FCA Heritage’s story of this 1973 Lancia Fulvia Coupé Montecarlo: “The Lancia Fulvia Coupé was launched in 1965, based on a shortened version of the Lancia Fulvia sedan chassis, with lines inspired by those of Riva speedboats. The car offered for sale comes from the ‘Montecarlo‘ series, created as a limited edition to celebrate Munari and Mannucci’s legendary victory in the 1972 Monte Carlo Rally. The specific ‘Montecarlo’ on sale is based on the 2nd series Fulvia Coupé, and it is equipped with a 1.3[-liter] 90-hp engine. It was delivered to the Lancia dealership in Naples on 19 April 1973, and still has its original black registration plates.”

Fiat Spider

FCA Heritage’s story of this 1981 Pininfarina Spidereuropa: “[This] represents the final act of the 124 Sport Spider… one of the longest-lived Fiat cars built in the last century. Designed by Pininfarina in 1966 and produced until 1985, the 124 Sport Spider lived a double life between Europe and the United States; from 1975-on, it was produced only for the USA. It only returned to this side of the Atlantic in 1982, when Pininfarina decided to launch the Spidereuropa. This exemplar was one of the first, and only drove 10,000 kilometres: for its 105 horsepower two-litre engine, hardly more than the distance needed to run it in!”

Alfa Romeo Spider

FCA Heritage’s story of this 1991 Alfa Romeo Spider — “The icon of ‘Italian style’ convertibles, the Alfa Romeo Spider belongs to the last version of this glorious model to be built, launched in 1966 as the final work of Battista Pininfarina in person. The car, which has always belonged to FCA, was used for technical tests such as the custom-color test, which makes it a virtually unique Alfa Romeo.”

Lancia Appia Coupe

FCA Heritage’s story of this 1959 Lancia Appia Coupé: “A car which took its place in the annals of Italian cinema as the car driven by Sylva Koscina in Luigi Zampa’s film, The Traffic Policeman. This is a 2 + 2 coupé designed by Pinin Farina and built on the chassis used by Lancia for its custom-built cars. Its outstanding characteristics include the finely styled interior and the two-tone bodywork which emphasizes the elegance of the roof, defined by the distinctive V pillar. The car showcased in Paris was manufactured on April 16, 1959.”

FCA Heritage’s story of this 1989 Alfa Romeo SZ: “The car was developed to return the Italian brand’s technological brilliance to the large sports coupé sector. A car with immense personality, the Alfa SZ features bodywork made totally of synthetic materials, and was assembled by hand by Zagato on the chassis and mechanicals of the Alfa 75 3.0 V6. The rear-wheel drive uses the classic Alfa Romeo transaxle layout. It was produced only in the ‘Alfa Red’ color, in 1,000 numbered exemplars, sold originally at a price of over 100 million lire. The car bears the date 15 September 1989 (one of the very first), and hails from the circuit in Balocco, where it was used for testing and experiments. The difference between this and standard production cars gives it an almost-prototypal status.”

The FCA Heritage stand at Rétromobile also hosted an Allemano-bodied Abarth 2400 Coupé and a Bertone-bodied Fiat Dino 2400 Coupé.

If you could buy a vehicle that was restored and certified to original specifications by its parent firm, what would it be, and how much of a premium would you be willing to spend?

Source: www.hemmings.com/blog

One of a kind: 1957 Volkswagen Wendler cabriolet

One of a kind: 1957 Volkswagen Wendler cabriolet

1957 Volkswagen Wendler cabriolet

Photography by David LaChance.

In this business, there are countless times we are on the receiving end of a conversation that starts with “It’s one of only…” and usually ends in a number likely in the hundreds, if not thousands. But coachbuilt cars come in small quantities by definition, their shapes and curves, sometimes exotic, sometimes quixotic, covering familiar mechanical bits underneath.

Although the tradition of small coachbuilders faded away in the U.S. after World War II, it remained alive in Europe as everything from BMW to Bentley to Benz was subject to re-imagining by the custom makers.

Even Volkswagen, the people’s car, got the royal treatment from the coachbuilders, who were abundant enough and eager enough for business in the post-war years to work with the flexible and adaptable VW chassis. Companies such as Denzel, Rometsch and Beutler manufactured custom-bodied VWs, some with more sporting intentions and others more practical, like the four-door Beetle taxi from Rometsch.

Karosserie Wendler was another German coachbuilder that created low-volume custom-bodied Volkswagens, theirs based on the Karmann Ghia pan. And by low volume, how about 10 total, with only two known cars left to exist, both, not coincidentally, owned by John Herrlin, whose car we feature here and whom we also met in issue #46 of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car from June of 2009 with his 1958 Beutler Porsche 356. A California entrepreneur special-ordered the eight to 10 cars from Wendler and sold them from the West Coast as “Sportster” models.

The Wendler cabriolet sports lines not unlike those found on a contemporary Porsche 356, particularly in front, but the effect is a bit less bulbous overall than that first series Porsche. Likewise, the grille at the front is a mere decoration, its metal gridwork giving the false impression of a radiator lurking behind it. At the rear, the engine cover sports a single rectangular grille like that of some 356s. John’s car even wears a 356 Registry badge on its grille. Large, chrome hubcaps cover body color steel wheels. Riding on the same 94.5-inch wheelbase as the Ghia, the Wendler is only one inch longer, at 164 inches. As John points out, “It’s an acquired taste. It’s ugly enough to be cute and it grows on you after a while.”

1957 Volkswagen Wendler cabriolet 1957 Volkswagen Wendler cabriolet 1957 Volkswagen Wendler cabriolet 1957 Volkswagen Wendler cabriolet

The contrasting dark blue top is matched by the seats and the interior door trim. The flat dash, clean and simple and painted the light blue of the body and windshield frame, features a large, round speedometer next to a clock of the same diameter.

John found both Wendlers in the pages of our sister publication, Hemmings Motor News, buying them from the same owner in Arizona. One car had been in the Midwest and ended up quite rusty, but the blue car was mostly in good shape. Restorer Carl Brown, from CB Restorations of Haverhill, Massachusetts, recalls that the restoration was fairly straightforward. “This car wasn’t too, too bad,” Carl tells us. “The car needed some patchwork here and there, but nothing major, no big structural problems. This was a fairly solid car.”

Some coachbuilders went so far as to use custom parts virtually everywhere, while others like Wendler used as many off-the-shelf parts as possible to complement the unique bodywork. “The Wendler is pretty good,” Carl says, “because it uses Volkswagen headlamps and Karmann Ghia taillamps and gauges. So, there is a lot of Volkswagen stuff in there.”

Despite the unique, one-off nature of each Wendler, Carl is quick to point out that they were well made. “First of all, it’s German, which, when it comes to machinery and even sheetmetal work, they always were the best. It’s just amazing, German stuff. The thing about these cars is that not everything is always symmetrical. And that’s when you realize they are coachbuilt; they are hand-built.” Carl does acknowledge that hand-built nature as well, among all of the coachbuilt VW and Porsches of the day and that restorations can get tricky for those parts that are not off the shelf. “They’re very simple and basic, like a Volkswagen would be. There is nothing really tricky about them, except that you can’t buy a damn thing for them.” Even on the Wendler, Carl says, “As far as sheetmetal on the body, anything you need, you would have to fabricate. You obviously can’t buy pieces for this car.”

Owner John says, “Essentially, these are orphans. There’s a certain amount of artistry in them and with all coachbuilts; they are hand-made cars. This is kind of a combination with off-the-rack parts.”

Additional parts that are not unique include the Karmann Ghia pan, dash and gauges. Volkswagen parts are also used for switchgear and handles–parts that could conceivably cost as much as the bodywork if a small manufacturer needed to tool up to create unique parts for all of them.

Carl does point out that the restoration of the other Wendler owned by John will be more than the straightforward affair the blue car was. “The other one he has is going to be a re-body. It’s rotten from the door handles down. The pan’s gone, the bulkheads–everything. Major, major work will be performed on that one. But at least with that one, you could start with the spine of the Ghia chassis and buy the outer pieces. The next one will strictly be ‘take the sheetmetal off the wall and start duplicating what you have.’ Even the rotten stuff that you do have will need the blue car to go by.”

1957 Volkswagen Wendler cabriolet 1957 Volkswagen Wendler cabriolet 1957 Volkswagen Wendler cabriolet

Under the hood of the Wendler sits an Okrasa 1300 engine, a major reworking of VW’s 1,192cc horizontally opposed engine. The Okrasa name should ring a bell to fans of air-cooled Volkswagens of the 1950s and 1960s. Founded by Gerhard Oettinger in 1951, Oettinger Kraftfahrtechnische Spezial Anstalt sold kits for VW engines that promised to “Cut your zero to 60 MPH time by 12 seconds.” In a seeming panacea for all your automotive ills, ads promised “Power increased throughout the RPM range. No increase in fuel consumption. No sacrifice in durability.”

Coachbuilders like Wendler opted for Okrasa engines, particularly since the VW’s base engine delivered a mediocre 36hp. The basic Okrasa modifications included a pair of twin port, high-compression cylinder heads. These increased the compression ratio from 6.6:1 to 7.5:1. As on early 356s, dual Solex 32PBIC carbs were part of the package. Okrasa also offered a custom oil cooler. For the full-tilt Okrasa 1300, a chrome-moly 69.5mm stroker crank increased capacity to 1,295cc and helped the engine generate 48hp, a full third more than the base VW engine.

Shaun Marston, an experienced restorer and owner of Tick’s Auto Repair of Ipswich, Massachusetts, rebuilt the mechanical and electrical components in the Wendler. He recalls the engine as a straightforward rebuild. “It wasn’t hard at all. The heads were in phenomenal shape–no corrosion at all. Somebody took care of it. It’s probably one of the tightest engines we’ve built. That car could sit for months and not leak a drop of oil. You could just touch the key and go.” The rebuild encompassed new pistons, new bearings, machining of the crank and “a little balancing.”

Shaun did, however, encounter problems with the transaxle, particularly second gear. After several attempts, they replaced some of the gears in the box and were able to get it running smoothly, something Shaun clearly takes pride in and calls it “Probably one of the best driving cars of the day,” in reference to Volkswagens and other VW-based specials.

Erhard Wendler founded his eponymous company in 1840 in Reutlingen, Germany, now a suburb of Stuttgart. As coachbuilders, Wendler built horse-drawn vehicles until after World War I, when they turned to making automobile bodies. Between the wars, they created coachwork for the likes of BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Horch, Maybach, Hanomag, Bentley, Cadillac and even the Ford Model A. Among their most famous work is the production version of the svelte Porsche 550 Spyders and the RS60 race machines, which wear the distinctive airfoil shape of the Karosserie Wendler badge on their flanks. Perhaps the only Wendler product you can still buy for their cars is that badge.

Not long after the last of the Porsche production models, Wendler stopped making cars and went out of business as a karosserie in 1961. But the Wendler name continued, in the restoration business and later as a maker of armored “protection” models for German luxury car makers. In 2000, PGAM, a U.K.-based specialty automotive supplier acquired a bankrupt Wendler, absorbing their expertise into PGAM’s business.

This article originally appeared in the February, 2012 issue of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car.

Source: www.hemmings.com/blog

Do the math – 1967 Dodge Dart GT 383

Do the math – 1967 Dodge Dart GT 383

1967 Dodge Dart GT 383

The first year that Dodge put its big engine in a small chassis made for some excellent numbers at the drag strip. Photography by Matthew Litwin.

Muscle cars are essentially about math, plain and simple–a basic, easily measured power-to-weight ratio. Put a bigger, more powerful engine in a smaller, lighter car, properly calculate gearbox and axle ratios, and you will almost always have a faster trip down the strip.

When the Dodge Dart model was moved from an intermediate platform to a modified version of the compact–and hot-selling–Plymouth Valiant’s A-body underpinnings, it made for a better combination of weight and power, particularly when equipped with the optional 273-cu.in. V-8, as was available on the Dart GT. But it wasn’t exactly fast. So, when the design was updated for 1967, giving the model more of that folded-square, big-car style then used throughout the Chrysler Corp’s lineup, it got a big-time boost in the form of the 383-cu.in. big-block, then only previously found in larger cars.

Though the car lost any sense of the economy that it was originally built to offer, the result was the first regular production Dart to be truly competitive at the quarter-mile, and the base for more powerful 383, 440 and even 426 Hemi Darts to follow in the coming years, giving the small Dodge a solid reputation that has remained with it nearly 50 years later.

Tony Gramer, of Canton, Michigan, is one such fan of fast Mopars. Coming home from Vietnam in 1969 and flush with cash, Tony bought a new GTX in Saddle Bronze, a purchase that cemented his appreciation for all things Mopar for a lifetime, despite his working for Ford Motor Company for the next 39 years. While that GTX is–regrettably–long gone, Tony has had other Mopars.

In early 2012 while on the lookout for another car, Tony got a tip on a car that was posted as a “Find of the Day” on Hemmings.com. “A friend of mine calls me,” remembers Tony, “and I said, ‘I’m looking for another car.’ And he says, ‘Boy, did I find a rare car for you.’ It was in Wyandotte, Michigan, so I went over to take a look at it.”

The Find of the Day turned out to be a ’67 Dodge Dart GT equipped with a 383 engine, one of just 458 made that year. Though the engine was from a different ’71 Mopar of indeterminate origin, the VIN and other accompanying paperwork confirmed the car’s original status as one of just 229 such cars equipped with a TorqueFlite 727. Like many muscle car fans, Tony appreciates such low production numbers.

1967 Dodge Dart GT 383 1967 Dodge Dart GT 383 1967 Dodge Dart GT 383 1967 Dodge Dart GT 383

Dodge almost didn’t make the car for 1967, and though we may really want to know, we will likely never have a definitive answer as to why the company decided to install a big-block engine in its compact chassis. Chrysler Corporation’s goal 47 years ago was not to keep detailed and accurate records about every corporate production decision. No, they wanted to sell cars. So, we end up with two possible stories about how the ’67 Dart received a big-block engine, one much more colorful than the other.

Along with a totally redesigned body, Plymouth introduced a 383 engine option on the Barracuda Formula S for 1967, helping put Chrysler’s sportiest car on slightly better footing against the likes of 390 Mustangs, 396 Camaros and 400 Firebirds. At the start of the model year, Chrysler had decided not to put the larger V-8 in the Dart GT, the Formula S’s counterpart. Obviously, in a performance-oriented world, not all Dodge dealers were happy.

Norm Kraus, a.k.a. “Mr. Norm,” owner of Chicago’s Grand Spaulding Dodge, one of the nation’s biggest Dodge agencies at the time and quite dedicated to performance, decided to take matters into his own hands. In an interview with HMM two years ago, Mr. Norm talked about wanting Dodge to put one of its big engines into the smaller A-body: “‘What are you spotting these people a thousand pounds for?’ I said, ‘Give me a 383 in the Dart.’ The first ‘383’ came in and it was a 273. I called up Detroit and said, ‘What is with a 273?’ and they said, ‘Our engineering department said it couldn’t be done.’ So, I said, ‘I’ll get back to you.’ I called Denny in Parts and said, ‘Get a 383 out of the back and throw it in a Dart.’ That was on a Friday and on Monday morning he was done. I said, ‘Let’s go.’ It drove absolutely magnificently!” After driving the car from Chicago to Detroit, Mr. Norm says he convinced Dodge to build the car.

The conventional–and more likely–story is the easy one, though. With the 383 Barracuda already in production, Chrysler knew damn well how to install a big-block engine in an A-body chassis. Perhaps Mr. Norm lit a fire under their backsides, perhaps not, but later in the model year, in February, 1967, Dodge announced the availability of the “Charger 383” as an option on the Dart GT. Anyone who checked that box was also obligated to get the Rallye Package, option number 357, which included front disc brakes, heavy-duty torsion bars, heavy-duty rear springs, a front anti-roll bar and D70 x 14 Red Streak tires on 5.5-inch wheels, which were essentially the options that made up Plymouth’s Formula S package.

The task of fitting an A-body Mopar with a 383 included more than just shoehorning the big-block engine into the compact chassis, though that feat required some modifications to the unit-body’s K-frame to accommodate the larger block. In order to fit in the smaller chassis, the exhaust manifolds had to be redesigned to fit inside the fender wells and clear the steering shaft on the driver’s side and the torsion bar on the right side.

But Chrysler engineering re-worked the engine beyond the simple cast-iron jujitsu required to fit the more restrictive manifolds. The engineers spec’ed a similar Carter AFB carburetor as found on the bigger cars, but fitted one with a slightly reduced capacity. The ’67 A-body 383’s AFB was rated a 525 CFM, versus the B-body’s 575 CFM. Cylinder heads with smaller exhaust valves and a milder cam matched the exhaust manifold changes, and the carburetor was calibrated for the slightly lower output engine. The end result was a drop in output from the Charger’s 325 hp and 425 lb.ft. of torque to 280 hp and 400 lb.ft. in the Dart GT. Though in a car weighing several hundred pounds less than the Charger, the Dart GT’s 383 gave plenty of go power.

1967 Dodge Dart GT 383 1967 Dodge Dart GT 383 1967 Dodge Dart GT 383 1967 Dodge Dart GT 383

The lack of power steering had nothing to do with drag strip intentions and reducing parasitic losses. It was simply that the modified exhaust manifold did not leave enough space for a power-steering pump, giving all ’67 383 Dart GT owners a workout navigating parking lots. Make that a sweaty workout, as the installation of the 383 also obviated the availability of air-conditioning.

Magazine writers of the day praised the Barracuda 383 (almost identical mechanically to the Dart version), with Car and Driver testing an automatic-equipped version and calling it “one of the best of the new breed of sporty cars from Detroit. It combines two of Chrysler Corporation’s best components–the 383 and the TorqueFlite…It’s comfortable and well made.” Car and Driver’s hot shoes were able to coax 15.4-second quarter-mile times out of that Barracuda, formerly uncharted territory for an A-body Mopar.

The GT, the most stylish of the Dart line, had finally arrived as a legitimate sporting car. It had the power to compete against the likes of the Mustang and Camaro, but with styling a bit more grown up that has aged quite well over the years. Dodge made millions of Darts in that same body style between 1967 and 1976, when they finally put the nameplate on hiatus in the United States. Seemingly ubiquitous for years, Darts have gradually become somewhat scarce, and particularly so for the performance models.

Tony, a Michigan native, reports that this was one of the few ’67s he had laid eyes on, let alone such a rare model. Tony recalls: “I had never seen a ’67 in my day, so this is one of the neatest cars I have ever seen. The Turbine Bronze color really grabs you when the sun comes out. When you go to a car show, there are certain cars that catch your eye; I wanted something that was unique and different.” Mission accomplished. Just 458 Darts were built with the 383 engine in 1967, but it’s anyone’s guess as to how many remain.

Despite some Dodge advertising with big, bold letters adding up “GT + 383 = New Dart GTS,” Tony’s car wears only GT badges, a fact confirmed by the paperwork of his car. In 1968, when A-body 383s saw a bump in power to 300 hp, the model officially became the GTS. Even though the car is often called a GTS today, these early production models–made available from March 1967–are technically just Dart GTs, but small “383 Four Barrel” call outs on the fenders allude to the thundering engine under the hood.

When Tony bought his car, the advertisement made no bones that the engine was anything but a replacement for the original. In addition, the engine is topped with an Edelbrock single-plane, high-rise aluminum manifold and a Demon 750-CFM four-barrel carburetor. Fortunately, it does have the correct, unique-to-the-’67-A-body cast-iron exhaust manifolds. On top of that, the seller provided a host of spares, including the original rear end and driveshaft, TorqueFlite and correctly date-coded 383 engine–albeit with cracked heads–that very likely came out of the car originally. Tony currently has that ’67-era engine undergoing a full rebuild, including the correct-type cylinder heads, new .060-over pistons, a mild cam, some valve work, roller rockers and stock-looking aluminum Edelbrock intake and correct carburetor in order to fit the unsilenced factory air cleaner under the Dart’s flat hood.

1967 Dodge Dart GT 383 1967 Dodge Dart GT 383 1967 Dodge Dart GT 383

In the couple of years that he has owned the car, Tony has had the circa-1980 enamel paint buffed out to a bright shine, fixed various bits of molding around the car and installed NOS door sill plates. He also completed some interior work, replacing some chrome components on the center console that had become pitted after so many years. He painted the lower portion of the console as well to give the otherwise original interior a like-new look. With absolutely no evidence of crash damage, the body integrity remains factory original on this roughly 60,000-mile Dart.

For Tony, his love of old Mopars–he also has a 1969 Road Runner in the garage–has become a family affair. “I worked a lot through my career,” says Tony. “I was a machine repairman by trade, and then I went back to school for manufacturing engineering for Ford. I worked a lot. So, my son and I, when he was growing up, we did not do a lot of things together. He’s actually a mechanical engineer now, and we have a father-and-son day at least once a week. And we get together and work on the cars. Both cars are father-and-son projects. I have a seven-year-old and an 11-year-old grandchild, and they are both into cars as well.”

Perhaps, when the car is finished, after the rebuilt 383 is in place and the Dart GT 383 takes its rightful place at the strip, the youngest members of Tony’s family will get the kind of math lesson no kid could turn his nose up at.

Owner’s View
I like the color. I love the size of the car. Because of the horsepower-to-weight ratio, it’s an extremely fast car, even with the engine that’s in there today. It’s just a fun car to drive. To me, it performs well. It handles well. When I put the new tires on it, especially, it handles very well. I like the color combination with the black interior and the Turbine Bronze outside and the black top. The contrast is just really kind of cool.

It’s a solid car. I can’t find any places where it has been damaged or anything. So, the metal is original. There is no rust on the car, and, underneath, you could pick it up and it’s exactly the way it came out of the dealership. It’s absolutely perfect. I could not believe the shape this car is in. The biggest reason I like the car is that it’s unique. When I go to a car show, the draw to the car is tremendous. I’ve gotten so many compliments.–Tony Gramer (right, with son Tony)

Club Scene
GTS Registry

+ Rare ’67 Dart with 383
+ Big 383 power in a small package
+ Attention getter

– No power steering
– Restricted power from the 383
– Rare and getting rarer

1967 Dodge Dart GT 383
280 Horsepower @ 4,200 RPM
400 lb. ft. torque @ 2,400 RPM
1/4-mile: 15.4 seconds @ 92 MPH*

Base price: $2,627
Price as profiled: N/A
Options on car profiled: 383-cu.in. engine, TorqueFlite 727 three-speed automatic transmission, Light Package, Rallye Package (manual front disc brakes, heavy-duty torsion bars, heavy-duty rear springs, sway bar, 14 x 5.5-inch steel wheels, D70 x 14 Red Streak tires), tinted glass, 3.23 final drive ratio, vinyl top, bucket seats, console

Type: Chrysler B-series OHV V-8; cast-iron block and cylinder heads
Displacement: 383 cubic inches
Bore x stroke: 4.25 x 3.375 inches
Compression ratio: 10.5:1
Horsepower @ RPM: 280 @ 4,200
Torque @ RPM: 400 lb.ft. @ 2,400
Valvetrain: Hydraulic valve lifters
Main bearings: 5
Fuel system: Carter AFB four-barrel rated at 525 CFM
Lubrication system: Full pressure, gear-type pump
Electrical system: 12-volt
Exhaust system: Cast-iron exhaust manifolds, dual exhaust

Type: Chrysler TorqueFlite 727 three-speed automatic
1st: 2.45:1
2nd: 1.45:1
3rd: 1.00:1
Reverse: 2.20:1

Type: Chrysler 8-3/4-inch
Ratio: 3.23:1 (currently 3.91:1)

Type: Manual recirculating ball
Ratio: 24:1
Turning circle: 38.7 feet

Type: Hydraulic manual
Front: 10.8-inch ventilated discs
Rear: 10 x 2-1/4-inch drums

Chassis & Body
Construction: Unit-body steel with subframe
Body style: Two-door, five-passenger hardtop
Layout: Front engine, rear-wheel drive

Front: Upper and lower control arms, longitudinal torsion bars, 0.88-inch anti-roll bar;
telescoping shock absorbers
Rear: Semi-elliptical, longitudinal leaf springs; telescoping shock absorbers

Wheels & Tires
Wheels: Stamped steel with full wheel covers(currently Cragar S/S)
Front: 14 x 5.5 inches (currently 15 x 6 inches)
Rear: 14 x 5.5 inches (currently 15 x 7 inches)
Tires: D70-14 Red Streak nylon cord
Front: (currently BFGoodrich radial 215/65R15)
Rear: (currently BFGoodrich radial 235/60R15)

Weights & Measures
Wheelbase: 111.0 inches
Overall length: 195.4 inches
Overall width: 69.7 inches
Overall height: 52.8 inches
Front track: 57.4 inches
Rear track: 55.6 inches
Curb weight: 3,300 pounds (approximate)

Crankcase: 5 quarts (including filter)
Cooling system: 17 quarts
Fuel tank: 18 gallons
Transmission: 18.5 pints

Calculated Data
Bhp per cu.in.: 0.73
Weight per bhp: 11.79 pounds
Weight per cu.in.: 8.62 pounds

Dodge produced 458 Dart GTs equipped with the 383-cu.in. four-barrel engine for 1967, of which 229 were equipped with automatic transmissions.

0-60 mph: 6.6 seconds*
1/4-mile ET: 15.4 seconds @ 92 MPH*
*Source: Car and Driver April 1967 test of a Plymouth Barracuda Formula S equipped with the 383-cu.in., 280-hp engine and three-speed TorqueFlite 727 automatic transmission.

This article originally appeared in the February, 2014 issue of Hemmings Muscle Machines.

Source: www.hemmings.com/blog

Hemmings Find of the Day – 1946 Nash 600

Hemmings Find of the Day – 1946 Nash 600

Restored 1946 Nash 600 for sale on Hemmings.com. From the seller’s description:

In 1836, the Russell Manufacturing Company started up in the South Farms District of Middletown, CT. They were a textile manufacturer and became the world’s foremost supplier of suspenders. By 1915 the company was so large it needed it’s own fire dept. As the Russell Manufacturing Company grew, so did the community surrounding it and in the 30’s, a Protective Association was formed between Middletown and Russell where the Russell FD would also serve to protect the surrounding community.

In approximately 1950 they purchased the 46 Nash pictured here from a private owner on Cape Cod to be used as part of the now burgeoning South District. They converted the Nash 600 Super to FD specs, including a Motorola Radio/CB/Loudspeaker, spotlights, siren and red flashing light and of course, bright red paint. It was used regularly through the 60’s. By then, the Middletown South Fire District was it’s own entity, however, many vehicles still had the Russell ID on them as well.

In the mid 60’s one of the volunteer firemen purchased the Nash and kept it up, driving it in parades, shows, etc. His son took over when he was no longer able to do so. In or around 2000 the son, along with several members of the South District had the car restored to it’s current pristine condition, including a rebuild of the flat head 6.

In 2014, the current owner, also a South District volunteer, purchased the car from the estate of the original volunteer fireman who bought the car from the Russell/South District Dept.

Since purchasing the car, the current owner has re-cored the radiator, had the gas tank dipped and sealed, rebuilt the carburetor and distributor, installed a new master cylinder and wheel cylinders and put new Coker tires on her.

The Nash 600 was named after the 20 Gal gas tank and it ability to get 30 miles per gallon, giving it a 600 mile range.

Aside from the aforementioned fire equipment, this Nash has the original 173 ci. flathead 6 cyl engine, 3 speed manual transmission, blinkers, heater/defroster and gauges. It was a radio delete car when originally purchased.

The Nash only has 750 miles on it since its full restoration in the early 2000’s and runs and drives beautifully.

This car is nearly perfect and has only a couple of small flaws. There are only a couple of known small nicks in the paint and the clock doesn’t work or does so sporadically.



Location Marker

Middletown, Connecticut

Magnifying Glass

No Longer Available

See more Nashes for sale on Hemmings.com.

Editor’s note: The purpose of the “Find of the Day” is to highlight interesting cars from our classifieds. These are not the actual ads, so to view more images or contact the seller with questions, click on the hyperlink (underlined green text), which will take you to the classified ad itself.

Source: www.hemmings.com/blog